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Art of War tournament report: Salt Classic GT

Hello 40k fans! I’m John Lennon, here to break down my recent adventures at the Salt classic GT with the Tyranids!

Tyranids are my first love in 40k, and the army that first got me into 40k. Although I have been a little more loyal to a two-armed Emperor recently, it felt great to bust out my favorite Xenos faction! Tyranids may not be thought of as the most competitive army in the game, but with some recent love courtesy of Forge World they have a real chance to make a splash!

Let’s start off by talking about the list. This army actually isn’t my own creation, but instead was written by a Hive Mind! (get it?) I have to give credit to my fellow Art of War coach Alex Macdougall, and Best in Faction’s Colin Sherman for doing a lot of the dirty work in getting this army written! In fact, you can even hear Colin talk about his version of the army in an episode of the Art of War podcast! The list I ran can be found below:

Hive Fleet Kronos patrol:

Neurothrope (symbiostorm) 95

3x Rippers 36

10 Hormagaunts 60

6x Hive Guard (Impaler Cannons, Enhanced resistance) 270

Exocrine 170

Hive Fleet Kraken Battalion

The Swarmlord (Catalyst, Paroxysm, Warlord: no trait) 270

Hive Tyrant (Wings, Adrenal Glands, Rending Claws, Devourers, Onslaught, Psychic Scream) 210

10 Hormagaunts 60

20 Hormagaunts 120

30 Termagants (30 Devourers) 210

Lictor 37

Dimachaeron 230

Dimachaeron (Accelerated Digestion) 230

Not pictured: Gants. Lots and lots of gants.

This monster mash may be my favorite evolution of Tyranids yet! For once, a competitive tyranid army actually looks like what I would imagine, with a healthy dose of both large monsters and little bugs, and even a few mid sized models playing support. Also, this was my first event with the Dimachaerons, and it’s only right that Tyranids should have the largest monster on the battlefield!

This army is designed to leverage the insane speed of Kraken tyranids to deliver some quality elite-killing damage output into all the right spots, while being difficult to engage and scoring mission points well. If you remember the classic Kraken genestealers of 8th edition, just think about that! Except, the dimachaerons are faster genestealer squads that have minimum four damage in combat, and the combination of Psychic Awakening and some nice points drops have made tyranid shooting more formidable than ever. Now, let’s dive into the games!

Credit to Games Workshop

Round 1: Roarke’s Imperium

Round 1 brought me a blast from the past, with a Castellan Knight supported by a battalion of Imperial Guard! I was actually a little nervous here, as my Dimachaeron’s are 18 wounds and therefore can be seen through obscuring terrain. I often rely on out-ranging the heavier weapons my opponent brings, but a Volcano lance can reach out across the entire table! In this instance though, my worries didn’t pan out. I took the first turn and decided to go as aggressive as possible, looking for some early momentum. Although the Castellan was screened out by waves of infantry and conscripts, I focused my exocrine and hive guard to clear a gap in the screens and then used the Swarmlord’s “Hive Commander” ability to move a dimachaeron into the gap and charge the big knight itself! After braving the overwatch and fighting twice, I was able to bring down the Castellan.

This was a huge relief, as my opponent could no longer scoop up my monsters with ease. Although two moirax and a host of special weapons were able to eventually drag one dimachaeron down, I kept up the pressure and started throwing squads of Hormagaunts forward to tie down the guardsmen and contest objectives. This game got one-sided very quickly unfortunately, as a massive turn 1 sparked my victory.

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Credit to Games Workshop

Round 2: Andrew’s Iron Hands

The throwbacks continued, as I found myself facing off against an Iron Hands Leviathan in game 2! Once again, there were enough guns to clear a Dimachaeron off the table, and my high wound count was sure to be a detriment. This time, I lost the roll-off and had to endure a punishing shooting phase. I thought I had gotten off lightly when an attack bike squad failed to wound one dimachaeron, but the Leviathan responded by dealing all 18 wounds by itself, and taking one of my beloved leapers off the table! It seems I had to pay for past sins at the hands of an Iron Hands Leviathan… To make matters worse, an assault terminator unit advanced directly towards my lines, with a culexis assassin supporting, and psysteel armor taking them to a rather impressive negative 1+ save in cover! It became pretty clear that killing this squad was not in the cards.

I decided that the Leviathan had to go, and I was more than happy to trade my surviving dimachaeron for the big dread! I also had to stop that terminator squad from getting too close to my lines, so I sacrificed one hormagaunt squad to move block the brick and stop it from engaging my hive guard next turn. Finally, I pointed as many guns as possible into the Attack bikes, successfully taking them off the table. My dimachaeron did his job, weathering the overwatch and killing the leviathan, coming out with 9 wounds left thanks to some clutch catalyst saves and using Overrun to sprint directly into my opponents backfield!

Yes, the dimachaeron finished my turn 1 in my opponent’s deployment zone!

This was key, as the terminators didn’t want to turn around, so I was able to force an inceptor squad to land in my opponent’s own half to deal with the Dimachaeron, and took some of the pressure off of my own backfield. The second dimachaeron went down quickly, and I had my remaining Hormagaunts pulverized in close combat, which quickly left me with my shooting elements and psykers the only models alive on the table! Fortunately, my cavalry arrived from reserves on turn 2…

With my normal game winning pieces gone, a lowly lictor decided to pick up the slack and use the Pherome trail stratagem to deliver 30 termagants into my opponent’s deployment zone! I had to be careful to stay away from the plasma inceptors, and the Swarmlord used Hive Commander on himself to skirt the edges of the table and avoid the brick of terminators, killing a librarian and providing synaptic support for my termagants! With my opponent’s units committed, I was determined to use my speed to preserve as much as I could. Unfortunately, this included falling back my hive guard from a meddling Outrider squad, which limited my shooting.

The Swarmlord was absolutely the MVP of game 2!

My careful play paid off, as on turn 3 I managed to avoid crippling damage, only losing a few gants to boltguns, leaving me in excellent position to counterattack. With a successful cast of onslaught, my swarmlord was able to rocket forward, killing a captain and engaging the Inceptors, while my hive guard finished off the rest of my opponent’s shooting. Although I was down on the primary, I had lots of little units still in all four corners and started throwing myself on objectives, content with the fact that my opponent couldn’t shoot me and his terminators could only be on one objective at a time. The swarmlord continued his rampage, finishing off the last of inceptors and the scattered troop squads with little resistance. True to prediction, those Terminators mauled a ripper squad, but I found myself comfortable holding more for the last two turns, pulling me back ahead for a second (close) victory!

Round 3: Nick’s Death Guard

After two rounds into some previous meta lists, I ran face first into the new meta! This time, Nick Nanavati’s Death Guard were my toughest obstacle yet to close out day 1. This Art of War rematch was also on direct assault, which felt like the worst mission to play against the Death Guard! I knew that I was in for a barn burner, and this definitely turned into a wild game. I tried to start off aggressive, only for a dimachaeron to whiff and not kill a single Death Shroud! While I fought twice and killed the unit, it felt like a lot of resources for a small gain, and the first Dima was quickly turned to goo by Nurgle’s chosen legion.

I decided to try and be safer on turns 2 and 3, while the Death Guard inexorably marched towards the center, and kept my last Dimachaeron safely behind a wall while I tried to clear Poxwalkers. Although I did my best to limit Nick’s primary, he matched me back by hitting two charges out of reserves to keep my score low right with him! After three turns of staring each other down, the game devolved into an all-out-brawl when I made a mistake and left a ripper unit a little too close to his Blightlords, giving them an easy charge to reach the center. Once Nick got board control, I had no choice but to try and take out his terminators, or he would seize control of the primary and run away with the game!

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Credit to Games Workshop

This is where the game got crazy, when the swarmlord failed a 5″ charge and a dimachaeron had to fight the blightlords all by himself! Although I took a heavy toll on the terminators, I didn’t quite finish the squad off, letting Nick control the center objective and build a lead. Once again, I found myself in a tough situation and needed my last Dimachaeron to come in clutch! But first, I had to weather a brutal shooting phase that saw the Swarmlord, my lictor, a neuropthrope and every single gant on the table slain! I was down to my last gasps, but this was a moment where the dimachaeron put the whole army on his back.

After absorbing a plague of mortal wounds and the charge of a Daemon prince, my dimachaeron managed to kill the entire blightlord unit by himself, using his Spine maw for a burst of mortals to finish off the unit, and healing himself by three wounds with his accelerated digestion! In one fell swoop I turned the game, denying Nick points on all three secondaries and having a dimachaeron alive to meddle with Nick’s remaining units. My turn 5 was just enough, as my Hive Tyrant and exocrine teamed up finally kill the daemon prince, while a Hive Guard volley brought low one contemptor dreadnaught, and I outlasted the Death Guard by a meager 7 points with less than ten models still alive! Thank goodness 9th edition only has five turns.

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Credit to Games Workshop

Round 4: Wilson’s Drukhari/Craftworlds

After a grueling day 1, I was happy to still be undefeated with only two rounds left between my Hive Fleets and victory! My next game was into one of the bogeymen from the last Munitorum Field Guide, a horde of 8 point wracks in 20 man units! With no less than 80 Prophets of Flesh wracks, and plenty of Forge World Aeldar vehicles in support, I was going to be hard-pressed to clear away this tide! Luck was on my side though, as the top tables were dense with terrain and I was able to hide from the firepower of two Lynxes and three Hornets staring me down.

The Wracks are designed to absorb all the punishment from an enemy army, and my opponent was happy to use them that way! However, I think he underestimated just how much damage a Tyranid army can do when pressed. I went first, and took a very conservative turn where my hive guard simply killed a hornet from safety while nothing left the wall it hid behind. The Wracks came out to play though, so on turn 2 I dropped the hammer!

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Credit to Games Workshop
This, but sixteen times.

I went for an all out assault, trusting in my weight of threats to let some survive the counterattack. With the high speed of Hive Fleet Kraken, I was able to go from completely hidden to declaring multiple charges and brought in my reserves to fully overwhelm the enemy! This was a game where the devilgants earned their keep, spending 2cp to put a full 180 shots into one wrack squad, while a barrage of exocrine shots, smites, and impaler cannons reduced a second unit to a mere few survivors. With the “Black Cornucopian” stratagem, I couldn’t afford to leave any models left in a wounded squad, so I put a full dimachaeron into each unit to clean up the scraps!

Once again, the insane flexibility of hive fleet kraken and the swarmlord let me put a hammer blow on the opponent, adjusting the position of the Dimachaeron’s once I saw the full impact of my shooting phase so that I knew where they were needed! Into an army like wracks, this was even more valuable. The Dimachaerons, of course, took the brunt of the enemy firepower, but I used my Hive Fleet Kronos stratagem “deepest shadow” to deny Jinx, and then took two Lynx into one doomed Dimachaeron! As hard as they hit, it wasn’t enough to neutralize just one threat, and my turn 3 played out almost the exact same as turn 2. To help deny the redeploy of wracks, I spread out all of my “trash” gant units to screen the entire board edge and prevent any fresh wracks from arriving! With his screens gutted and the primary quickly running away, my opponent elected for an early lunch break and we ended the game there.

Credit to Games Workshop

Round 5: Dan’s Dark Angels!

Top table time! Once again, I find myself faced with a nigh-unkillable terminator brick, this time with the newest codex that’s already making quite a splash in the meta! The Dark Angels were packing 9 attack bikes and a pair of talon masters to support the Deathwing, a tall order for any army to try and survive! With this round being Vital Intelligence, I had a very deep deployment zone and buried my Dimachaerons in the corner, making sure that no aggressive attack bikes would be able to get to me. My opponent was similarly wary of my speed, so we ended up with a massive gap between both armies. Each of us shifted to the side on turn 1, trying to turn the game into what was essentially a Hammer and Anvil deployment, as we both sought to collect primaries without risking resources. Although I shot Hive Guard into his terminators several times, an apothecary healed all of the damage I was able to cause.

Although I was content with a close game, I knew I would have to make a move eventually. My gameplan was to try and limit the fighting to the last three turns of the game, so that if I committed my army and lost the battle, my opponent wouldn’t have enough time to finish off my objective holders! This way I could use my speed to contest a few objectives while the melee raged, and hopefully get a primary advantage to overcome the strong Dark Angels secondaries. When I made my push on turn 3, it went even better than I had hoped! I put a full load of four mortal wound spells into the Deathwing, and a clutch super smite meant that two terminators died and a third was wounded! My shooting killed another two, and by the time my first Dimachaeron charged in with full rerolls to wound, there were only six models left! The dogpile of gants tied up the rest of the unit, and when my dimachaeron fought twice he ground the deathwing down to only a single model remaining. Now that’s a lot of damage!

Terminators secure objectives with new Deathwing rules for Dark Angels -  Warhammer Community
Credit to Games Workshop

Although I landed a great first blow, I hadn’t been able to impact my opponent’s shooting much at all. Nine multi-meltas can be quite scary, and I lost my Flyrant, a Dimachaeron and several gants in the counter move. Unfortunately, the fight phase was less kind when Azrael, supreme grand master of the Unforgiven, was swallowed whole by the Spine-Maw of the last Dimachaeron! The Dark angels battled on with grim resolve, but I made sure to keep piling on the gants and pin them back in their half of the table, and with only a few turns left, they never broke out to reach the objectives I held on the opposite side of the battle. By the end, I had maxed my primary and held the first legion back, leaving the Tyranids as champions of the Salt Classic!

Conclusion

Honestly, going back to my beloved Tyranids was a great breath of fresh air. I’ve been playing with every color of power armor for the last 18 months, and it was wonderful to see Xenos competing on the top tables again! This was the first time I have taken my Tyranids to victory in a GT without any allies at all, and a pure Hive Fleet victory was sweet indeed! Even better, it was good to see that high speed Xenos armies were a valid counter to the best that two of the newest books could offer, which may be a sign of things to come when Dark Eldar reach our doorsteps soon…

To hear more from John, or to see the Tyranids in action, make sure to check out the Art of War on YouTube or in the War room!

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  1. Hi John,
    Let me start by saying this is a great battle report, that I’ve read through several times. I’m a new Tyranid player and new to 40K in general, started March 2020 so I definitely not playing anywhere near competitively (when I can play at all which has been basically never, just some kill team). However, batreps like these are great because it tells me a lot about how the army plays and maybe what I should collect and paint next, for both form and functionality. Also it’s nice to see a tournament win with Nids, since so much online chatter puts them in a weaker tier for competitive play. Way to prove the naysayers wrong.
    I had a question about the batrep though: in round 2 you say you used a Lictor and Pheromone Trail to drop 30 devilgants into your opponent’s deployment zone – how did you reserve the gants to be used for that strat?
    My understanding of Pheromone trail was it could only be used by units that were placed in reserve through other means and for termagants I didn’t think they could outside of a trygon tunnel or being Jormungandr. Also I don’t see the Lictor included in your army list at the top of the article but I’m guessing that was just an error?
    Anyways, hope you can get back to me and explain how Pheromone trail was used in that situation and again, great batrep and congrats on winning at Salt Classic!

    Cheers,
    Cam

    1. Hello Cameron,

      There is definitely a Lictor in the list! He may just have been hidden and I forgot to type him there. I just used the generic strategic reserves, which does qualify a unit for the Pheromone trail stratagem.